Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 7

The term 'culture' addresses three salient categories of human activity: the 'personal,' whereby we as individuals think and

function as such; the 'collective,' whereby we function in a social context; and the 'expressive,' whereby society expresses itself. Language is the only social institution without which no other social institution can function; it therefore underpins the three pillars upon which culture is built. Translation, involving the transposition of thoughts expressed in one language by one social group into the appropriate expression of another group, entails a process of cultural de-coding, re-coding and en-coding. As cultures are increasingly brought into greater contact with one another, multicultural considerations are brought to bear to an ever-increasing degree. Now, how do all these changes influence us when we are trying to comprehend a text before finally translating it? We are not just dealing with words written in a certain time, space and socio-political situation; most importantly it is the "cultural" aspect of the text that we should take into account. The process of transfer, i.e., re-coding across cultures, should consequently allocate corresponding attributes vis-a-vis the target culture to ensure credibility in the eyes of the target reader. Multiculturalism, which is a present-day phenomenon, plays a role here, because it has had an impact on almost all peoples worldwide as well as on the international relations emerging from the current new world order. Moreover, as technology develops and grows at a hectic pace, nations and their cultures have, as a result, started a merging process whose end (point?) is difficult to predict. We are at the threshold of a new international paradigm. Boundaries are disappearing and distinctions are being lost. The sharp outlines that were once distinctive now fade and become blurred. As translators we are faced with an alien culture that requires that its message be conveyed in anything but an alien way. That culture expresses its idiosyncrasies in a way that is 'culture-bound': cultural words, proverbs and of course idiomatic expressions, whose origin and use are intrinsically and uniquely bound to the culture concerned. So we are called upon to do a cross-cultural translation whose success will depend on our understanding of the culture we are working with. Is it our task to focus primarily on the source culture or the target culture? The answer is not clear-cut. Nevertheless, the dominant criterion is the communicative function of the target text. Let us take business correspondence as an example: here we follow the commercial correspondence protocol commonly observed in the target language. So "Estimado" will become "Dear" in English and "Monsieur" in French, and a "saludo a Ud. atentamente" will become "Sincerely yours" in

English and "Veuillez agreer Monsieur, mes sentiments les plus distingues" in French. Finally, attention is drawn to the fact that among the variety of translation approaches, the 'Integrated Approach' seems to be the most appropriate. This approach follows the global paradigm in which having a global vision of the text at hand has a primary importance. Such an approach focuses from the macro to the micro level in accordance with the Gestalt-principle, which states that an analysis of parts cannot provide an understanding of the whole; thus translation studies are essentially concerned with a web of relationships, the importance of individual items being decided by their relevance within the larger context: text, situation and culture. In conclusion, it can be pointed out that the transcoding (de-coding, recoding and en-coding?-the term 'transcoding' appears here for the first time) process should be focused not merely on language transfer but alsoand most importantly-on cultural transposition. As an inevitable consequence (corollary?) of the previous statement, translators must be both bilingual and bicultural, if not indeed multicultural. Is it our task to focus primarily on the source culture or the target culture? The answer is not clear-cut. Nevertheless, the dominant criterion is the communicative function of the target text. Let us take business correspondence as an example: here what we do is to follow the language commercial correspondence protocol commonly observed in the target language. So "Estimado" will become "Dear" in English and "Monsieur" in French, and a "saludo a Ud. atentamente" will become "Sincerely yours" in English and "Veuillez agreer Monsieur, mes sentiments les plus distingues" in French. Finally, attention is drawn to the fact that among the variety of translation approaches, the? Integrated Approach? Seems to be the most appropriate. This approach follows the global paradigm in which having a global vision of the text at hand has a primary importance. Such an approach focuses from the macro to the micro level in accordance with the Gestalt-principle which lays down that an analysis of parts cannot provide an understanding of the whole and thus translation studies are essentially concerned with a web of relationships, the importance of individual items, being decided by their relevance in the larger context: text, situation and culture. In conclusion, it can be pointed out that the transcoding process should be focused not merely on language transfer but also-and most importantlyon cultural transposition. As an inevitable consequence of the previous statement, translators must be both bilingual and bicultural if not multicultural.

1. ranslation is a kind of activity which inevitably involves at least two languages and two cultural traditions." (Toury 1978:200). As this statement implies, translators are permanently faced with the problem of how to treat the cultural aspects implicit in a source text (ST) and of finding the most appropriate technique of successfully conveying these aspects in the target language (TL). These problems may vary in scope depending on the cultural and linguistic gap between the two (or more) languages concerned (see Nida 1964:130). 2. The cultural implications for translation may take several forms ranging from lexical content and syntax to ideologies and ways of life in a given culture. The translator also has to decide on the importance given to certain cultural aspects and to what extent it is necessary or desirable to translate them into the TL. The aims of the ST will also have implications for translation as well as the intended readership for both the ST and the target text (TT). 3. Considering the cultural implications for a translated text implies recognising all of these problems and taking into account several possibilities before deciding on the solution which appears the most appropriate in each specific case. Before applying these methods to the chosen text, this essay will examine the importance of culture in translation through a literature review. The different general procedures of treating the cultural implications for translation will be examined as well as analysing the ST and the aims of the author. The translation process will also be treated using specific examples found in the ST before discussing the success of aforementioned theoretical methods applied to the TT.

an important aspect is to determine how much missing background information should be provided by the translator

4. Although corresponding to cultural categories examined, the title will be considered separately in order to determine the pertinence of conserving, highlighting, or excluding certain aspects. Due to these considerations, the title will be considered after the other aspects as all other cultural implications need to be examined before reaching relevant conclusions.

5. The Importance of Culture in Translation The definition of "culture" as given in the Concise Oxford Dictionary varies from descriptions of the "Arts" to plant and bacteria cultivation and includes a wide range of intermediary aspects. More specifically concerned with language and translation, Newmark defines culture as "the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression" (1988:94), thus acknowledging that each language group has its own culturally specific features. He further clearly states that operationally he does "not regard language as a component or feature of culture" (Newmark 1988:95) in direct opposition to the view taken by Vermeer who states that "language is part of a culture" (1989:222). According to Newmark, Vermeer's stance would imply the impossibility to translate whereas for the latter, translating the source language (SL) into a suitable form of TL is part of the translator's role in transcultural communication. The notion of culture is essential to considering the implications for translation and, despite the differences in opinion as to whether language is part of culture or not, the two notions appear to be inseparable. Discussing the problems of correspondence in translation, Nida confers equal importance to both linguistic and cultural differences between the SL and the TL and concludes that "differences between cultures may cause more severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure" (Nida,

1964:130). It is further explained that parallels in culture often provide a common understanding despite significant formal shifts in the translation. The cultural implications for translation are thus of significant importance as well as lexical concerns. Lotman's theory states that "no language can exist unless it is steeped in the context of culture; and no culture can exist which does not have at its centre, the structure of natural language" (Lotman, 1978:211-32). Bassnett (1980: 13-14) underlines the importance of this double consideration when translating by stating that language is "the heart within the body of culture," the survival of both aspects being interdependent. Linguistic notions of transferring meaning are seen as being only part of the translation process; "a whole set of extra-linguistic criteria" must also be considered. As Bassnett further points out, "the translator must tackle the SL text in such a way that the TL version will correspond to the SL version... To attempt to impose the value system of the SL culture onto the TL culture is dangerous ground" (Bassnett, 1980:23). Thus, when translating, it is important to consider not only the lexical impact on the TL reader, but also the manner in which cultural aspects may be perceived and make translating decisions accordingly.

1. General cultural implications for translation Language and culture may thus be seen as being closely related and both aspects must be considered for translation. When considering the translation of cultural words and notions, Newmark proposes two opposing methods: transference and componential analysis (Newmark, 1988:96). As Newmark mentions, transference gives "local colour," keeping cultural names and concepts. Although placing the

emphasis on culture, meaningful to initiated readers, he claims this method may cause problems for the general readership and limit the comprehension of certain aspects. The importance of the translation process in communication leads Newmark to propose componential analysis which he describes as being "the most accurate translation procedure, which excludes the culture and highlights the message" (Newmark, 1988:96). This may be compared to the scale proposed by Hervey et al, visualised as follows:

(Hervey et al, 1992:28) Nida's definitions of formal and dynamic equivalence (see Nida, 1964:129) may also be seen to apply when considering cultural implications for translation. According to Nida, a "gloss translation" mostly typifies formal equivalence where form and content are reproduced as faithfully as possible and the TL reader is able to "understand as much as he can of the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression" of the SL context (Nida, 1964:129). Contrasting with this idea, dynamic equivalence "tries to relate the receptor to modes of behaviour relevant within the context of his own culture" without insisting that he "understand the cultural patterns of the source-language context" (idem). y Conclusion A variety of different approaches have been examined in relation to the cultural implications for translation. It is necessary to examine these approaches bearing in mind the inevitability of translation loss when the text is, as here, culture bound. Considering the nature of the text and the

similarities between the ideal ST and TT reader, an important aspect is to determine how much missing background information should be provided by the translator using these methods. It has been recognised that in order to preserve specific cultural references certain additions need to be brought to the TT. This implies that formal equivalence should not be sought as this is not justified when considering the expectations of the ideal TT reader. At the other end of Nida's scale, complete dynamic equivalence does not seem totally desirable either as cultural elements have been kept in order to preserve the original aim of the text, namely to present one aspect of life in France. Thus the cultural implications for translation of this kind of ST do not justify using either of these two extremes and tend to correspond to the definition of communicative translation, attempting to ensure that content and language present in the SL context is fully acceptable and comprehensible to the TL readership. (Newmark,1988).